Examples of Taarof:
When few people try to enter a door way that permits only one at the time the respectful approach is to let the oldest person enter first, then the guest, and last the host. It's common to see people at doorways insisting each other to enter first and they go back and forth and sometimes this ritual can repeat itself for a long time and can become somehow annoying.
Iranians sometimes get in fight over who is going to pay in restaurants. Everybody is taking their money out and try to tell the cashier to take their money and seldom we threaten the cashier if he/she takes money from the counterpart.
When you shop merchandise at a store in Iran, the cashier quotes the price and also tells you that it's on the house and don't mention it (Ghabel nadare). But at the end you have to pay for the merchandise.
At least but not last, when you are sitting in a gathering and a new person that you know enters, you get up of respect and greet. If the person is older no matter if you know the person or not, it would be disrespectful to not stand up! Sometimes I think it's better to go to a gathering later than sooner otherwise you have to get up over and over again.
There are so many vocabulary used in Tarof that cannot be translated to english, I don't understand many of the words either. Some of the words are, "Ghabel nadare", which means it's not worth it for you to pay. In Iran you hear ghabe nadare everywhere. If you tell a friend what a beautiful watch she/he has, they usually say Ghabel nadare.
When somebody ask me to say hello to my parents I'll be polite and respond: I will send your greatness (bozorgitoon ro miresoonam). When you talk to someone that hosted you last, you start the conversation with: how are you dealing with our burdan!( ba zahmat ma chetorin)
As a person grown up in a western culture, sometimes Taarof becomes very challenging. You don't know if people really mean what they are offering or it's just a taarof. I usually tell people that I don't taarof, but that itself can be a type of taarof!
I also recognized that subconsciously I have been carrying the taarof culture in my life.
I faced complicated situations outside Iran and offered to pay for things in many situations where nobody else offered so I end up with the whole bill myself.
I would say we do have more of the Taarof culture in the U.S than in Sweden. I like to keep beautiful parts of each culture that I grew up in. There are certainly beautiful parts of Taarof. In the Taarof world I believe you have to mean what you are offering. Don't offer your watch to someone unless you are ready to give it away and don't offer to pay for a whole table unless you mean it and you can afford it!
Love from Taarof world
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